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Archive for March, 2011

First of all, my apologies, since I have not been blogging as I had promised. Unfortunately, this is part of a pattern that I have had of  slacking off on my Lenten observance this year. I am not sure why I have been feeling so lethargic this Lent, but I knew I had to do something to shake myself out of my rut.

I decided to make the trip to the Communities of New Skete in upstate New York over the weekend of March 25th through the 27th. I carpooled with some fellow parishioners and arrived on Friday at the Companions’ House, just in time to drop off my stuff and head to the monastery for lunch. I spent the afternoon helping the community set up for the Saturday retreat, having very little time to rest on my laurels before the evening liturgy of the Annunciation.

Saturday, the day of the retreat itself, was a full day, beginning with Matins/Orthros at the Holy Wisdom Temple, the larger of the two churches on the grounds of the monastery. Following Matins and a light breakfast, there was a  presentation by Teva Regule, MDiv, entitled Christian Formation as Participation. Teva based her presentation on the Mystagogical Catacheses of Cyril of Jerusalem, focusing on the sacraments of  initiation (baptism, chrismation and eucharist) and the journey of Lent as a call to repentance and conversion of life. In the afternoon, the “little hours” of Tersext were held in the smaller Transfiguration Chapel, followed by lectio divina, which is a meditative reading of scripture taken from the Benedictine tradition. The day concluded with the Vigil for the Third Sunday in Lent, the Sunday of the Holy Cross, with a service of healing and anointing.

The Sunday Divine Liturgy was celebrated according to the ancient and venerable Liturgy of Saint James of Jerusalem, as adapted to the use of New Skete. I found myself paying particularly close attention to the Anaphora of Saint James, since, although I have read versions of the text any number of times, this was the first time I had heard it used formally in a liturgical service. When I approached the priest for communion, I had to shift gears a bit, since in the Liturgy of Saint James, the communion bread and wine are given separately, the bread being received in the right hand and the wine being sipped from the chalice, rather than the two elements being received together via a communion spoon as is the more usual custom at Byzantine liturgies. The Liturgy of Saint James reminded me both of the Qurbono or Syriac Divine Liturgy and of some of the elements found in contemporary Western liturgies which were adopted as a result of the Liturgical Movement in the mid 20th century.

Upon my return from New Skete, I have begun to revitalize my prayer life and I am starting to take my Lenten discipline more seriously. I think I needed the extra push to make an effort to make productive use of this Lenten season. I am planning to send an e-mail to one of the monks at New Skete to get some suggestions about how I might incorporate elements of the Byzantine daily office in my personal prayer life, but in general, I will have to take the rest of this Lenten season one day at a time so that I do not fall behind in my discipline and neglect the rest of the season.

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As we enter into Great Lent, I do not have much about which to blog so I will let this Lenten prayer speak for itself:

In the spirit of Forgiveness Vespers, a very moving service which I was privileged to attend this past Sunday, I ask all my readers to forgive me, a sinner, and I say to all of you, God forgives, and so do I.

I should also briefly mention that among my Lenten disciplines will be to be more attentive to my blogging, so stay tuned, more posts are forthcoming.

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